Wisdom or Shrewdness
Have you ever noticed that everything Jesus taught was simple, direct and practical? There is nothing mystical or spooky or weird about Christianity, as you find in false religions. Christianity is not about going into a trance or putting on a pious look or attempting to speak or preach or pray in supposed pious tones. It’s not about losing control of our bodies and babbling in strange unknown sounds. It’s not about trying to imitate the latest rock stars or screwing up our faces as though we were in pain when we sing. The true Christian, though far from perfect, is real. He’s not even perpetually grinning; though a warm, genuine smile that begins in the heart and seeps out through the eyes and to the entire countenance is a beautiful reflection of the indwelling Christ in a Christian.
Jesus came to reveal the Father to us; so the better we know Jesus through the study of His Word, the better acquainted we are with our Heavenly Father.
Everything Jesus teaches, touches our lives practically as we live each day.
Everything He teaches deals with moral issues, matters of right and wrong. His teachings are going to convict us and often make us feel uncomfortable about ourselves. As long as we face our sins honestly and confess them to Him, His blood shed onCalvary’s cross makes possible His forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness. That’s the teaching of I John 1.
So with this background, let’s turn to Luke 16 and read the first thirteen verses. Here we will learn of an unjust steward. In this very interesting story we will learn about wisdom and shrewdness.
It is estimated that Jesus used about 40 parables in His teaching and about 30% of them deal with money and material things. Why is money so dominant in His teachings? Because money is so dominant in our lives. Most of our waking hours is spent earning it, spending it, investing it and thinking about how we can acquire more of it.
There is nothing wrong in being shrewd and wise in planning ahead for eventualities, including our retirement. But as Christians, our primary concern in the use of our time, energy and money should be how we can invest for the maximum dividends in eternity.
We don’t buy our way into Heaven. That is offered freely to guilty sinners who trust in God’s gracious Gift of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. But as Christians, we ought to be considering how best we fit into Christ’s Great Commission to take the Gospel to the whole world. As we invest in that heavenly enterprise, we are going to reap eternal dividends.
Now if you’ve read the story in Luke 16:1-13 let’s discuss it and learn the practical lessons Jesus taught.
A rich man had a steward. A steward is one who manages money and financial matters for another. That is a grave responsibility. The most important qualification for a steward is that he can be trusted.
The steward in this story that Jesus told turned out to be irresponsible and untrustworthy. When the master learned of this, he called his steward in to give an account and gave him his notice of termination.
The steward, knowing he was too old to dig ditches and too proud to beg, began to consider what he should do. Then an idea came to him. He called in the debtors one by one. Jesus mentions two of them. To the first debtor he offered to cut his debt in half. To the second debtor he offered to cut his debt by 20%.
Why did the steward do this? He was a shrewd, though irresponsible and crooked manager of money. He knew one lesson of sales that every good salesman knows. He knew his only way out of his mess was to work out a win/win situation for everyone involved. By reducing the debts of the debtors, he won their friendship which he would need after he was terminated. He worked out a plan where his master would at least recover part of the debts owed him. After all, 50% or 80% was better than nothing! He also won for himself the approval of his master.
Yes, Jesus tells us that the master commended him for his shrewdness. There are two Greek words that could have been used. The Greek word translated wisely in the King James Version in verse 8 is more accurately translated shrewdly in the New American Standard Bible. One means wise and the other means shrewd. This steward was probably not wise, but he was shrewd.
Then Jesus concluded His story with this factual statement in verse 8, “The children of this world, the unsaved, are in their generation shrewder than the children of light, Christians.” The Lord willing, we will examine this statement in more detail in our next article in this series.
Note verse 9. The New American Standard Bible makes it clearer, “And I say unto you, make friends for yourselves of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.”
One day our money is going to fail. We are going to give it all up when we die. The message of this story Jesus told is that if we invest our money in the spread of the Gospel and in building lives for Christ, one day when we arrive in Heaven we are going to be welcomed by a host of people whose lives we have personally touched for Christ as well as untold others whom we never met on this earth, but who through our sacrificial giving, came to know Christ through God’s servants who were helped financially through our gifts. I am so excited to think about this. I cannot begin to grasp the influence of my life as I have preached the Gospel in small churches for over fifty years, as well as by radio for about twelve years and now through this web site on the internet. From some reports I have received, I expect I am a spiritual great-grandfather to countless new Christians. But more exciting, the good people who have supported me down through the years are all going to join with me in rejoicing when we arrive in Heaven and begin to learn the full extent of our ministries. These Christians who have preceded us to Heaven are going to be there to welcome us when we arrive in Heaven!
If you are a “Lone Ranger” type of Christian, I encourage you to get involved in a sound Bible preaching church and help spread the Gospel by word and by your financial support to those who are faithfully preaching the Word here and around the world. Get in on the action now and one day you too will be met by a host of people who came to Christ through your financial support. If you are blessed by this web site, help spread the Gospel to others around the world by sharing this web site with others.
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